Days after looters ransacked numerous stores in Chicago and across the state in late May, Gov. J.B. Pritzker called on insurance companies to expedite claims to those affected small businesses.
But more than two months later, some store owners say they still haven’t received payouts and that they also now face higher premiums next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The vandalism and looting incidents — particularly intense in Chicago — accompanied some of the protests for social justice that followed the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. In response, Pritzker urged insurers to “do the right thing and do it fast.” The state Department of Insurance also sent a letter to insurers licensed in Illinois, asking them to comply and to implement a 60-day freeze on policy cancellations or non-renewals.
Last week, more than 2,500 businesses hurt by Covid-19 and those lootings did get a boost, receiving a total of $46 million in business interruption grants. The state awarded the federally-funded grants, and Pritkzer said more assistance would be on the way, and that half of the recipients from the current round were minority-owned businesses.
The most recent round of lootings in Chicago took place in the early morning hours of Aug. 10, focusing on stores along Mag Mile and Downtown. It followed the police shooting of a man in Englewood earlier that day.
Unpaid insurance claims from the May incidents are testing many small business owners’ ability to remain open.
Michelle Rothschild told the Journal she only received a $20,000 check from her insurance company for one of the five stores in the South and West Sides that were looted in May. Now only two of her six stores in total are still open.
In Downtown Chicago, clothing store Syd Jerome was looted three times since May, its owner told the Journal. Scott Shapiro said the latest damage was estimated at $40,000, but said he didn’t file claims out of concern that premiums would rise.
According to the report, at least 30 Chicago businesses also have court actions against their insurers over losses linked to the Covid-19 shutdowns. [WSJ] — Alexi Friedman